In Hong Kong, Drop – founded by iconic DJ Joel Lai and late actress Colette Koo – has been a firm fixture in the nighlife scene since 2000. In club years, that’s practically prehistoric, given that most 20-somethings who frequented the place when it first opened are now well and truly deep into their 30s and 40s.
Which is how and why Drop KL came to be in the first place. The establishment is Drop’s first foreign outpost and eschews the club vibe in favour of a more mature restaurant-bar ethos. Drop can be a little difficult to locate, as there is no signboard outside, but once you locate it, you’ll find a sophisticated dining area that can also be converted into a dance floor, and an outdoor space (with retractable roof) that offers unparalleled views of the perfectly manicured lawns of The Royal Selangor Golf Club. A rooftop bar will also soon be unveiled.
“Around the world, nightlife has shifted because all the people that were part of the house music culture, they’re all in their 40s, married with children and not really going out so much. And what they enjoy doing is going out for dinner with their friends but they still like the music and party scene, so we kind of just slide in with the more mature audience,” says Alison Christ, Drop KL’s general manager.
Christ is a seasoned sommelier who has worked in restaurants in the US and was instrumental in the development of natural wine in Hong Kong, where she lived for four years. She became acquainted with Lai who asked her if she would be interested in being part of Drop KL. After making frequent visits here, Christ was sold on the idea.
Having sussed out the F&B landscape in KL, Christ realised that modern American cuisine would work well in the local market, which was already saturated with Asian and European cuisine. So she began searching for an American chef and connected with experienced chef Tim Jay on LinkedIn.
“I just needed an American chef who had the lifelong experience of what modern American cuisine is. I had many applications from chefs living in America, but it was just very difficult to fly them here, do a tasting and fly them back, so logistically, I narrowed down my searches to American chefs in Asia. Tim was living in Thailand, so he flew down and we did a tasting with him in my home kitchen, and it was amazing,” she says.
Jay has been in the industry for over 20 years, and has worked all over the world, opening 15 restaurants in five different countries. As Drop KL is the first of several eateries the group has planned for the Malaysian market, Jay was eager to embrace the challenge.
“That is why I came onboard for this project, because we are planning to open five to six eateries in Malaysia, each with its own distinctive personality,” says Jay.
The modern American cuisine that Drop espouses is propped on the famed American melting pot, which borrows from other cuisines, especially Mexican and Latin American. Jay uses his expertise and experience to meld this cuisine with what is available locally.
“I take ingredients that I see in Malaysia and incorporate that into flavours that are familiar to myself,” says Jay. While Drop endeavours to support local farmers and producers, Jay says he also has to monitor local produce as soaring temperatures here can affect the taste of certain ingredients.
“Temperature has a big influence, as well as rain. An ingredient like chilli will become more spicy as the weather changes. So if it becomes too spicy to match the American profile, then I have to outsource them from a different area,” he says.
To begin your Stateside culinary adventure at Drop, try the Wild Mushroom And Scamorza Cheese Flatbread (RM45). The flatbread is filled with a medley of mushrooms in the ilk of porcini, trumpet, and wild forest mushrooms, all of which add woody, earthy flavours to the bread, which is thick, soft and doughy.
If you’re looking for a more upscale flatbread, you’ll find it in the Duck Duck Goose (RM85) which boasts ginger, miso prunes, smoked duck, goose foie gras and goat cheese. The constellation of ingredients on the bread work in synchrony to tempt and tantalise in equal measure. The foie gras is the star of this ensemble production, and is velvety soft and tender on the tongue (although it could use a tad more seasoning).
Nothing at Drop KL is more hedonistic than The Real Deal Mac & Cheese (RM32) which is made with no less than five different kinds of cheese as well as cream, butter and garlic bread crumbs. I have to warn you though, once you plunge your spoon into this ooey, gooey cheesy delight, you must be prepared for a lifetime of addiction!
TJay’s Tacos (RM25) feature corn tortillas wrapped around a mass of chicken, black beans, fontina, pice de gallo and chipotle cream. Rich and flavourful, with spicy underpinnings, this is a dish that ticks all the right boxes.
The pan-seared Atlantic salmon (RM65), meanwhile, is an ode to the north-western part of America and features the aforementioned salmon with a blueberry gastrique, lentil pilaf and mustard glaze. Jay says that while Europeans love this dish, some other customers find it to be underseasoned. I fall into the latter category. While there is nothing wrong with the dish, it comes off rather pedestrian and mundane (and yes, a tad underseasoned).
Then there is the Mary Had A Little Lamb Burger (RM29) which features a lamb patty, goat cheese, lemon thyme aioli and roasted red pepper, olive tapenade and a house made bun. While the lamb and goat cheese are great bedfellows, it is the delicious roasted red pepper puree that takes centrestage here.
If you have an avowed sweet tooth, you’ll want to end your meal with the Dad Is Great Chocolate “Cake” (RM30), named because this is Christ’s father’s recipe. The cake is essentially chocolate mousse, caramel sauce and walnuts. While the texture of the mousse is lusciously light and silken, the entire concoction is so intensely sweet, you’re likely to experience a sugar rush after the first mouthful.
Drop KL also has an extensive range of wines – curated by Christ – as well as cocktails made by Kiwi barman Tim Clark. From his intoxicants, try the Apollo (RM42) which is made with Antica, pomegranate juice, cardamom syrup and lime juice. This is an extremely refreshing, tangy drink that offers the perfect epilogue to your experience at Drop KL.
T-1-02, 1st Floor
The Terraces, TREC
438 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2110 4343
Open Monday to Thursday: 5pm to 1am; Friday to Saturday: 5pm to 4am